The Archived By Victoria Schwab

Title: The Archived

Author: Victoria Schwab

Publisher: Hyperion

First Published: January 22nd 2013

Blurb:

“The dead rest on shelves like books. Each body has a story to tell, a life in pictures only Librarians can read. The dead, called ‘Histories’, rest in the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often—violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper is dangerous and a constant reminder of those she lost, Da and her little brother. Mac wonders about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. Yet someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.” (From Goodreads, 20th January 2015)

Review:

One of the things any book lover enjoys is a book about books, libraries, and drama. The archive however, is a different type of library, the books contain the histories of the dead individuals. However, violent histories break free and Mackenzie must stop them. Moving house, she has found her new home has many more histories waking up, needing to be returned to the Archive. Soon she is pulled in to a deeper mystery within the Archive as not all is as it seems.

This novel is fast paced and a very quick read. It is a book to grab the attention of reluctant readers, young adults, teens and adults alike will enjoy this novel. This book is the first in a series and I am yet to read any further, however, I definitely will be.

5 out of 5

The Name of the Star By Maureen Johnson

Title: The Name of the Star

Author: Maureen Johnson

First Published: 29th September 2011

Publisher: Harper Collins Children’s Books

Blurb:

The day that Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London to start a new life at boarding school is also the day a series of brutal murders breaks out over the city, killings mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper spree of more than a century ago. Soon “Rippermania” takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him–the only one who can see him. And now Rory has become his next target. In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities. (From Goodreads, 12th May 2014).

Review:

I absolutely loved this book! First it is set in London. Second it combines history with supernatural elements! And for me this just was wonderful!

Rory is in a new country, at a new school, away from her family and there is murders happening on her schools door step. Soon Rory becomes entangled in the murders after seeing the murderer, and becoming the next target. Life becomes more than high school for Rory as she is thrust into a world she never knew about. Ghost, murders, secret police, and some romance in there as well.

The premise of this novel was fantastic and I was gripped as soon as I started. The novel was fast paced and kept you wanting more. A ‘one more chapter…’ type off book.

‘The Name of the Star’ is a novel I would recommend to individuals who enjoy murder mysteries, combined with some teen angst and supernatural elements. A novel for those who enjoy something a bit different. Although I really enjoyed this novel, I can’t imagine many adults taking to it, however, young adults and teens should love this series. One that I will be recommending to my younger sister.

4.5 out of 5

The Scent of Lemon Leaves By Clara Sanchez

Title: The Scent of Lemon Leaves

Author: Clara Sanchez

First Published: 2010

Publisher: Alma Books

Blurb:

Having left her job and boyfriend, 30-year-old Sandra decides to stay in a village on the Costa Blanca in order to take stock of her life and find a new direction. She befriends Karin and Fredrik, an elderly Norwegian couple, who provide her with stimulating company and take the place of the grandparents she never had. However, when she meets Julián, a former concentration-camp inmate who has just returned to Europe from Argentina, she discovers that all is not what it seems, and finds herself involved in a perilous quest for the truth as well as a powerful account of self-discovery and an exploration of history and redemption. (From Goodreads, 12th May 2014).

Review:

“The Scent of Lemon Leaves’ was a novel I picked up after remembering a friend buying it a couple of years ago at the local book store, and since then it has sat on my Kindle patiently waiting. So I tapped it. It opened and I began reading.

I was surprised how quickly I was sucked into this novel and began to live the life of Sandra. Sandra is a character that many of us recognise – an individual in a ‘time out’ from life, pondering where she will go next. It is a reminder that life does not follow the plan many of us wish for. However, soon Sandra finds herself in a situation that is so peculiar that one must read this book to learn about it. Furthermore, Julian, an elderly survivor of World War II takes a last journey attempting to right the wrongs inflicted against him.

This is a novel that is about understanding why we live our lives, what we grip onto to allow us to continue, what is important enough to live for. In addition, ‘The Scent of Lemon Leaves’ has an air of mystery and an adventure which intertwines human fallibility with human strength. A fantastic novel twisting history, power, loss, youth, and death.

4 out of 5

A Novel Death By Judi Culbertson

Title: A Novel Death

Author: Judi Culbertson

First Published: 1st June 2011

Publisher: Thomas and Mercer

Blurb:

Like many other used booksellers, Delhi Laine, proprieter of Secondhand Prose, dreams of making the Great Find–if not a Shakespearean Folio, then at least a fragment of an Emily Dickinson or Edgar Allen Poe manuscript. But after receiving a very rare and valuable children’s book into her collection, she finds out such treasures can come at a terrible cost–the suspicious death of one colleague and another left for dead days later. (From Goodreads, 12th May 2014).

Review:

‘A Novel Death’ is one of those novels that has sat on my Kindle for ages due to being overlooked and put off due to more popular and raved about books. However, I am glad that I put this novel on my 2014 TBR and eventually started reading it! For all book lovers, I’m sure you will agree reading a book that is about books and set in a book shop is always good!

In ‘A Novel Death’ we have a collection of second hand book dealers who competitively attempt to uncover that ‘Great Find’ which will first provide them with riches and also respect from others in the business. However, such finds bring about a whole other side, a murderous side. And so we are pulled into a confusing, page turning thriller with a strange sight into what one would imagine to be a safe business. This is a thriller that goes away from the typical formula, and therefore is a breath of fresh air.

I would recommend this novel to those that are new to reading thrillers, for book lovers and for those who like a more gentle thriller that isn’t from the view point of a detective or police officer. ‘A Novel Death’ may not be the most suspenseful or complicated murder mystery out there however, it was still an excellent book and a very fast and enjoyable story line that kept me from putting the book down!

4 out of 5

Human Remains By Elizabeth Haynes

Title: Human Remains

Author: Elizabeth Haynes

First Published: 1st January 2013

Publisher: Text Publishing

Blurb:

When Annabel, a police analyst, discovers her neighbour’s decomposing body in the house next door, she’s appalled to think that no one, including herself, noticed that anything was wrong.

Back at work, she feels compelled to investigate, despite her colleagues’ lack of interest, and finds data showing that such cases are common – too common – in her home town. As she’s drawn deeper into the mystery and becomes convinced she’s on the trail of a killer, she also must face her own demons and her own mortality. Would anyone notice if she just disappeared? (From Goodreads, 12th May 2014).

Review:

‘Human Remains’ was a book I really wanted to enjoy, but unfortunately Elizabeth Haynes just didn’t manage to capture the suspense, the creepiness and the terror I felt she managed to capture in ‘Into the Darkest Corner’.

Any readers who fell in love with ‘Into the Darkest Corner’, and I know there are many of us, I cannot suggest you read ‘Human Remains’. ‘Human Remains’ is a very unique idea which is why I kept reading, and why I cannot be too harsh. I must credit Elizabeth Haynes for her ideas as they are fantastic, however, the spark of her first book has faded for me. These sparks emerged near the end of the novel but I really had to push myself to get there, but the ending was worth it. The drama I know Elizabeth Haynes is able to produce reemerged. But it was too little too late for me.

I feel like I am being harsh, but I am being truthful. We find a decomposing body near the beginning of the novel, but more and more begin to be found. But why is this happening? Why does no one notice their neighbors disappearance. Have we reached that point in society where we will not be missed. The theme and the questions posed by this novel are intriguing and are fascinating to think about, and I can imagine that they would be good talking points for book clubs.

So in summary, this is an interesting novel, with fantastic ideas just not pulled off in the most gripping of fashions.

2.5 out of 5

Fatal Act By Leigh Russell

Title: Fatal Act (A Geraldine Steel Mystery)

Author: Leigh Russell

Publication Date: 19th November 2013

Publisher: No Exit Press

Blurb:

A glamorous young TV soap star dies in a car crash. Returning for her sixth case, Detective Inspector Geraldine Steel is baffled as the driver of the second vehicle miraculously survives – and vanishes. Another young actress is murdered and, once again, the killer mysteriously disappears. Geraldine unwittingly risks her sergeant’s life in their struggle to track down a serial killer who leaves no clues. (From amazon.co.uk, 12th May 2014)

Review:

This is the second Leigh Russell book I have read, and the second Geraldine Steel Mystery I have read. Fatal Act is the 6th Geraldine Steel Mystery that has been released, with Stop Dead being the 5th Geraldine Steel Mystery, and to see my review of Stop Dead click here!

I enjoyed Fatal Act, however, it is not the most suspense driven mystery I have read. I have the same criticism as I did with Stop Dead is that it is slightly too methodical for me, Geraldine, the main protagonist does not feel truly human for me. However, this criticism is what makes Leigh Russell’s writing for me average rather than astounding. The plots and twists and turns are excellent and kept me pondering what will happen, who-did-it, and therefore, keep you reading.

Personally, for me these are nice reads in between more serious or heavy going novels. Also I can imagine them being good for holidays, for those of us who are not so fond of the romantic chick-lit holiday reads.

Fatal Act uses the complexities of the acting industry, the competitiveness, the complicit nature, and the truly murderess nature that jealousy can cause. An interesting theme, which keeps you guessing at all turns.

3.5 out of 5.

 

Gone Girl By Gillian Flynn

Title: Gone Girl

Author: Gillian Flynn

First Published: 2012

Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson

Blurb:

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media–as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents–the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter–but is he really a killer?

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet? (From Goodreads, 19th November 2013)

Review:

I was disappointed with ‘Gone Girl’ after everyone saying it was a fantastic mystery thriller, and it being voted for so many awards in 2012.

Nick’s wife has gone missing, and soon Nick becomes the main suspect. Nick initially seen as an amazing husband but soon this persona begins to unravel. But did Nick kill his wife?

The premise was one that enticed me, and from what everyone was saying I thought ‘yes, this is going to be a book that I will love’.

However, the first half of the novel bored me, but was saved with the twist in events during the second half. I am glad I kept going with ‘Gone Girl’ and would advise others who feel the same as me, just keep going! The second half is fantastic and a real page turner. There are a lot of shocks, and a lot of suspects. A psychological mind warp that makes you really wonder about the nature of people.

‘Gone Girl’ is a well planned and laid out thriller which does keep you guessing and shocking you throughout. But I cannot give ‘Gone Girl’ a high rating due to the slow first half, which nearly caused me to give up.

3 out of 5

Never Coming Back By Tim Weaver

Title: Never Coming Back

Author: Tim Weaver

Publisher: Penguin Books

Published: 29th August 2013

Blurb:

A SECRET THAT WILL CHANGE LIVES FOREVER

It was supposed to be the start of a big night out. But when Emily Kane arrives at her sister Carrie’s house, she finds the front door unlocked and no one inside. Dinner’s cooking, the TV’s on. Carrie, her husband and their two daughters are gone.

When the police draw a blank, Emily asks missing persons investigator David Raker to find them. It’s clear someone doesn’t want the family found.

But as he gets closer to the truth, Raker begins to uncover evidence of a sinister cover-up, spanning decades and costing countless lives. And worse, in trying to find Emily’s missing family, he might just have made himself the next target … (From Goodreads, 20th August 2013)

Review:

When I read the blurb of this novel I was very excited. I thought this is the sort of novel that I will enjoy. However, when I started I was slightly confused, the crime scene presented within the first few chapters did not match the blurb I had read which lead me to be slightly confused. But soon things begin to come together and the mystery of the family that went missing comes into focus.

The first half of the book confused me slightly due to the shifting of narrators, but once you get used to this you begin to enjoy the different points of view and stories taking place. However, in the second half of the book the narrator is David Raker alone, which lead me to being slightly confused about the actual reasoning for the switching narration in the first half.

Despite these issues I had at the beginning I loved this book! I loved the mystery, and it wasn’t a ‘who’s done it’ style of novel which can become slightly ‘samey’ once you have read a few. No, ‘Never Coming Back’ is a novel which builds up the layers as you go through the book. We learn more about the lives of all the characters and the entanglements they have to one another. Why has Emily’s family gone missing? Why is there a trail of bodies that do not connect? What do all these people know that has resulted in their deaths?

I loved this mystery, though I was slightly disappointed in the reasoning behind all the murders and why Emily’s family were taken. But I must admit that this is the first murder mystery I have read that came to this conclusion, which for me made it unique. But I must confess I haven’t read that many books of this genre despite my enjoyment of them.

I have never read any of Tim Weavers novels and thus this was my first David Raker novel. But through glimpses of what had happened, or what I assumed happened in Tim Weavers previous David Raker novel ‘Vanished’ it has made me add Tim Weavers previous novels to my wish list. This is a author that I have already recommended to my friends and family.

Despite the slightly negative comments I had at the beginning I still loved this novel and found that once I got a few chapters in I did not want to put the novel down! The small chapters made it even harder to put the novel down, and I found myself finishing the novel at 2am after getting engrossed when I picked it up from the half way point.

4 out of 5

Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore By Robin Sloan

Title: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

Author: Robin Sloan

Publisher: MacMillian

First Published: 2nd October 2012

Blurb:

The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a San Francisco Web-design drone—and serendipity, sheer curiosity, and the ability to climb a ladder like a monkey has landed him a new gig working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after just a few days on the job, Clay begins to realize that this store is even more curious than the name suggests. There are only a few customers, but they come in repeatedly and never seem to actually buy anything, instead “checking out” impossibly obscure volumes from strange corners of the store, all according to some elaborate, long-standing arrangement with the gnomic Mr. Penumbra. The store must be a front for something larger, Clay concludes, and soon he’s embarked on a complex analysis of the customers’ behavior and roped his friends into helping to figure out just what’s going on. But once they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, it turns out the secrets extend far outside the walls of the bookstore. (From Goodreads, 17th July 2013)

Review:

I love books about books. So was very interested in Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore and considering the hype around the book tubing/blogging community was happy to get my hands on this novel.

Clay begins work at the strange hole in the wall bookstore in San Francisco, but Clay soon realises that there is more to this bookstore. Soon we are brought into a world where books and computers combine to work out puzzles within the texts.

I found the beginning of the novel very exciting, and was pulled in by the absurdity of some of the characters and the mystery of the bookstore, but as it went on I lost interest. Everything became an argument about computers and books and I lost the magical feel that I felt at the beginning of the novel.

This is a novel that had a lot of potential but I felt lost focus. It was more the momentum of the story that keeps you going. The want to find the answer to the puzzle.

I feel that I wanted this book to be one of my favorites of the year before I even bought it that left me feeling disappointed. The turn away from a book focus to a computer focus wasn’t something that I enjoyed and feel that if I knew that was going to happen I may have enjoyed this novel more.

A book with so much potential, but falling short.

3.5 out of 5

The Boy Who Could See Demons By Carolyn Jess-Cooke

Title: The Boy Who Could See Demons

Author: Carolyn Jess-Cooke

Publisher: Piatkus

First Published: 10th May 2012

Blurb:

“I first met my demon the morning that Mum said Dad had gone.”

Alex Broccoli is ten years old, likes onions on toast, and can balance on the back legs of his chair for fourteen minutes. His best friend is a 9000-year-old demon called Ruen. When his depressive mother attempts suicide yet again, Alex meets child psychiatrist Anya. Still bearing the scars of her own daughter’s battle with schizophrenia, Anya fears for Alex’s mental health and attempts to convince him that Ruen doesn’t exist. But as she runs out of medical proof for many of Alex’s claims, she is faced with a question: does Alex suffer from schizophrenia, or can he really see demons? (From Goodreads, 24th June 2013)

Review:

I saw this book when I was shopping and had never heard of it but the title interested me straight away. Then I read the blurb, and thought this is a novel I will love!

Childhood psychiatry is a interest of mine and this book has both sides – the child and the therapist. Alex is a 10 year old boy who sees demons. Ruen is his best friend and is a demon. But is Ruen good for Alex? Is he real? Is Ruen just a symptom of an illness? Is Ruen a way of dealing with the loss of his father? Or is it the way he deals with his mothers depression and repeated suicide attempts? Or is Ruen real? These are some of the many questions that go through psychiatrist Anya’s head when she meets Alex. Anya desperately wants to help Alex and feels hospitalisation would be best for him. However, Anya’s daughter battled with Schizophrenia and this complicates matters.

I love this concept. A young boy who see’s demons with a mother who has attempted suicide and is currently in hospital. A psychiatrist who is dealing with the scars of her own child’s illness. The constant question ‘does Alex see demons or is he ill?’ Some romance is thrown in. Some traumas. Some mystery. Some fantasy. Some drama. Basically everything is in this book. But I think that’s where it falls down. There is a bit too much that not everything is fully developed and leaves you with just a few too many questions.

Lovely novel. Exciting. But just too many questions left unanswered.

4 out of 5.